I Did a Stupid

Back in January, having seen ads in my Instagram feed for a while, I caved in and ordered one of these totally sweet (okay, totally tacky) jackets in gray:

“Ice Cold Lemonade”, it turns out, is probably some shell company reselling cheap goods from China at a profitable markup. No big deal, I guess. I didn’t pay much for this jacket at the time. I got my tracking number and waited a few weeks for the jacket to make its way through China’s postal service and into the USA.

When the USPS tracking system told me it was delivered to my front door, I was pretty upset to discover that it wasn’t actually there. I don’t have a history of package theft in my neighborhood, but in recent months, I’ve had some occasionally crummy mail delivery service. Judging by the number of mail pieces delivered to my house for an address with a similar number or one block over with the same number, I assumed the same may have happened with my package. The best USPS could do was to “open up a case”, which was effectively a dead end. By late February I’d written it off as a loss.

But I still occasionally saw marketing emails from the seller advertising the jacket, and I still really liked it. So this past week I did the unthinkable—something I never do—and bought it a second time. Order confirmed on Thursday, tracking number from China’s mail system on Friday morning. I even remarked to a coworker on Friday about how unlike me it was to repurchase a lost item.

SO OF COURSE I get home on Friday to find that, nearly four months after the original order (and the day the new order has already shipped and can therefore no longer be cancelled), a weathered package from China has been left on one of my porch chairs. This thing looked like it had sat on an unknown neighbor’s porch the entire time it was missing, but the contents inside were unsullied. So yeah, I felt pretty stupid right away, but I was also excited to finally receive the original order.

I tore open the package and things got weird before hitting me squarely with the stupid stick once more. I’m a big dude, so I ordered this jacked in the largest available size: 3XL. A puffy-cut windbreaker-style jacket of that size should have been just fine. Why, then, did the tag inside this garment say 5XL? I wrote it off as a difference in sizing between countries. I tried it on, and I’ll tell you that this jacket may not have fit me when I was wearing XL garments in my youth.

I felt bad enough when the missing package showed up the very day my replacement order shipped. I felt extra stupid when I realized the redundant jacket won’t even fit me when it gets here.

This whole experience has been deeply humiliating, but I figure I might as well share the story publicly so that I can move past it. I think I’ll eventually laugh about it; not so much the wasted money and poor decision making as the crazy timing—the when and how I discovered my folly.

Sometimes the Old Ways

I’m a “come here” in Richmond, Virginia, even though I’ve now lived in this city for over half my life. And so I have an outsider’s perspective on some of the Old Richmond traditions in a way that outsiders to any community do. I don’t think most folks outside of my birth state of New Jersey know what a proper hard roll is, and they probably wouldn’t understand why I care so much if they ate one. They don’t have years of life experience, family memories, and community nostalgia to support what might be an otherwise unremarkable thing.

Sidebar: the “hard roll” (not to be confused with the similar kaiser roll) seems to be so intimately linked to the pork roll, egg, and cheese sandwich that I find it nearly impossible to find a useful link to explain them. Nearly everything I see from the past few years are worthless Pinterest lists or forum postings about Jersey natives lamenting the disappearance of our favorite breakfast bread. Some things can’t even be preserved on the Internet, it would seem!

I similarly don’t see much to celebrate around The Dairy Bar or Legendary Santa. I mean, I get why they’re special for people who have shared milkshakes with grandparents for generations or whose family has visited with Legendary Santa back to the days of Miller & Rhoads on Broad Street. But the rest of appeal is lost on me. This weekend, however, my wife and I shared a little bit of Old Richmond with our kids that carries as much wonder and joy for outsiders as those who grew up in the region: a movie screening at The Byrd Theater.

A friend of ours invited us at the last minute to catch a showing of The Lego Movie 2 late in the afternoon, and we were game for it. Both of our children were completely awestruck by the interior as their eyes adjusted to the low light, and my daughter kept asking whether it was a “play movie theater” (comparing it, I imagine, to the Carpenter Theater where she saw The Nutcracker this past December). Even better, and unexpected for the afternoon showing, was the performance from Bob Gulledge on the Wurlitzer organ coming out of the floor.

 Adapted  from Flickr  under the  CC BY-SA 2.0 license .
Adapted from Flickr under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license .

Valerie and I are no strangers to the organ or the theater—we’ve even participated in the pre-It’s a Wonderful Life sing-along. But it was a new kind of joy to share a little bit of this old town with my kids. I even forgot the terrible seats for most of the movie 🙂

Unfinished Marathon

An old 1960-something Checker Marathon, more familiar as a classic checkered yellow taxi cab through the 1980s. I hunted around forever trying to identify this thing, comparing every American (and many European) make, model, and year in the 1950s and pouring over photos of hubcaps. I was stuck in the 50’s because most of the stylistic elements on this body (flared rear fender, roof line, hubcap style) were only around between around ‘51 and ‘55.

Then, of course, my brilliant pal Phil took one look at it and realized exactly what it was: an old sedan from the Checker Motors Company. I should have asked him from the beginning and saved myself more than a few hours of research 😛

(Smells) Just Like Honey

I drink everything pretty fast. Doesn’t really matter whether it’s milk, water, beer, or a Tom Collins. If you’re a server at my table in a restaurant, don’t bother asking—yes, I would like more to drink, thanks.

There’s no beverage I drink faster—nay, chug—quite like unsweetened iced tea. I know it’s better for me to drink unsweetened tea anyway, but I just happen to like the taste. It’s what I want the most after mowing the lawn (even more than a High Life or a good kölsch). I can drain a quart of unsweetened tea in under 10 seconds if I’m truly thirsty.

I’m not picky about the brand/variety when I’m thirsty, but given the choice, I like Japanese teas – they tend to be more earthy and vegetal than Western palates prefer, but they tend to quench my thirst a bit more effectively. Ito En is a solid, common brand I see at ramen shops and Asian groceries, and my office has been carrying some of their teas in our beverage cooler for some time now.

One of my increasingly favorite products is the Ice-Steeped Cold Brew green tea. It’s milder than some of the other products (not that I mind) and has a little less caffeine (that I do mind just a little :-P), but what strikes me the most is the aroma. The taste is in line with the above, generalized description, but this tea has a strong, uncanny aroma of honey. Bottle after bottle. It’s intoxicatingly sweet-smelling, and provides a nice contrast to the flavor profile. This isn’t sponsored (as if…), I just love the stuff. If you like unsweetened tea, find it. And give it a sniff!